North Carolina attorneys are generous with their time and financial contributions. However until January 2017, there was no statewide mechanism to track legal volunteerism, recognize pro bono efforts, and identify pro bono trends and unmet legal needs. To capture this information, the NC Pro Bono Resource Center developed a voluntary pro bono reporting and recognition program.
With the introduction of voluntary pro bono reporting, North Carolina joined a national trend of capturing this data. Twenty-two other states track attorney pro bono participation: thirteen states, including Georgia, Texas, and Virginia, have voluntary reporting in place, while nine states, including Florida, Maryland, and New York, require mandatory reporting of pro bono legal service.
Pro bono legal services – legal services provided without fee or expectation of fee to persons of limited means, charitable organizations that are designed to address the needs of persons of limited means, or public interest organizations who cannot afford to pay – are the activity that can lead to statewide recognition. The Rules of Professional Conduct encourage a variety of ways for attorneys to serve our state, and the PBRC collects information about these important contributions, including: (1) activities to improve the law, such as leadership in professional legal associations, service on boards of legal service providers to clients of limited means, or active participation in employer pro bono committees; (2) non-legal community service; and (3) providing financial support to legal service providers, such as Legal Aid of North Carolina, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, and Pisgah Legal Services.
Collecting information about attorney pro bono work allows the Pro Bono Resource Center to quantify the level and types of pro bono service provided by North Carolina attorneys. This information helps the Center improve how attorneys find available pro bono opportunities, identify current unmet legal needs, and highlight best practices in pro bono work. The information will also enable recognition efforts attorneys for outstanding and sustained pro bono legal service.
For attorneys who report 50 hours of pro bono legal services, this recognition includes induction into the NC Pro Bono Honor Society and a certificate from the Supreme Court of North Carolina honoring the achievement. For the inaugural class of the NC Pro Bono Honor Society, see this press release from the Administrative Office of the Courts: http://www.nccourts.org/News/NewsDetail.asp?id=1687&type=1&archive=False.
Attorneys can report their pro bono service at the end of each calendar year via a form that will be live on this page shortly thereafter. Please come back in January 2018 to share information about your 2017 service.